Leah Goldin, the mother of IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in action in the Gaza Strip, urged American Jewish leaders on Thursday to aid in the return of missing Israelis from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Speaking in Jerusalem on the last day of the Conference of Presidents’ annual National Leadership Mission to Israel, Goldin made an emotional plea to the delegates to urge American and Israeli leadership to work for the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers for burial in Israel.
Goldin’s son and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in combat with terrorists in Gaza in 2014’s “Operation Protective Edge.” Their bodies were taken by the terrorists and are held to this day.
Goldin also pleaded for help with the release of Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who were also being held by Hamas in Gaza. Both Mengistu and al-Sayed suffer from mental illness.
American Jewish leaders should ask U.S. policymakers to condition any aid to Gaza on the return of the Israelis held there, Goldin said.
“The kidnapping of Hadar was a violation of international law. We went to the U.N. We went to the State Department. We have done all we can as a family. We need you to approach the decision-makers and make something happen,” she said.
Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff said, “All of American Jewry stands with you in this deeply painful struggle. We will continue to do all we can to promote the issue, and pray we see the return of Hadar for proper burial in Israel.”
“This is not a political issue. It is a humanitarian issue. We have four sons in Gaza. One Ashkenazi, one Sephardi, one Ethiopian and one Bedouin,” said Goldin.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Jan. 30 with Mengistu’s mother, Agurnesh, after Hamas released an undated video purportedly of the Israeli man, who crossed into the Gaza Strip on his own accord in 2014.
“Israel has not stopped efforts to return Avera Mengistu and the rest of our captives and missing people,” Netanyahu said after the video was released, adding: “We received further confirmation of what we knew all along—that Avera is alive. This is a young man who is not fully healthy, and the responsibility for his fate rests entirely in the hands of Hamas.”